"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Maybe it’s the hormones? Wait a minute, I don’t take any, unless you count the ones my body manufactures…. Oh, that is such stereotypical thinking. You can do better Halle.

If we think at all, we use stereotypes. Yet there is probably no more implicit criticism you can level at anyone who is trying to fit in as a member of some group they were not born part of, than to suggest they have followed a stereotype.

It is ironic that I should write a post about the use of language, because it is something I use only as a tool, and would rather not have to analyze, however, here goes. The English language has so many words with alternative meanings, where one of the meanings pushes buttons, and generally is the taken meaning.

There are words with innocent, even honorable meanings that have been pulled in the same way as ‘stereotype’. The word ‘normal’ is one, as is the word ‘discriminate’. A person of ‘discriminating taste’ is generally well thought of, even now, but to suggest that someone discriminates in the way they think, goes the other way. Why is that, and how did it happen?

Not being one who subscribes to conspiracy theories, it seems to me that there are individuals who go to great lengths to find ways to distract attention from the weakness of their arguments by either referring to some higher authority, or by casting aspersions upon those they criticize by lumping them into some already generally distrusted group.

I did not grow up a woman. My upbringing allowed that I could and did learn most of the tasks that either a male or female could perform in a home and for that I have always been grateful (there go those stereotypes again). I, of course never learned how a woman should ‘behave’ or ‘act’ other than what I could observe. I have been observing all of my life. I haven’t always liked what I saw in how the women in my life have been treated; I suppose I could be termed a feminist, yet because I have not been ‘personally affected’, my credibility in this is tarnished. I would like to be able to take on a female persona and a female role, but again, lack of training and natal credibility make it hard. I am overly sensitive to my failings, even though I have few options to gain credibility.

Because of the above, it is a pretty simple matter to put me on the defensive. In the case of being accused of relying on ‘stereotypes’ I am going to say it really pisses me off. What else am I supposed to do? Who will take on the task of making a ‘proper woman’ out of me, if not me? How else to model yourself, but by what you experience every day? What am I to call the collected modes of behavior but by the label ‘stereotype’? So if your goal is to make me feel really bad about myself by suggesting that I have ‘discriminated’ in my selection of role models and my choice is ‘stereotypical’, you have chosen the wrong person to mess with.

I intend to keep learning and growing, doing everything I can to avoid inappropriate actions, but knowing that learning involves taking risks. You have to do something, and it may not make everyone happy. One of the risks is ridicule, and only by having a confident attitude can that be conquered. If that confident person seems to be stereotypically confident, then so be it!


  1. I learned how to act and dress and create my own style of fashion by observing other women in places where they gathered. I had to figure what works best with what and after my first makeover, I had a getter idea of how to use makeup. My mother coached my sisters (4) but not her son (2) with beauty tips and fixing hair, I learned by trial and error. Not the best way but it works as we all find out.


  2. I think the key is to carve your own interpretation of femininity and forget what others might think about stereotypes. No matter what you arrive at there will always be someone whose idea is closer to the edge.

    As a day-to-day bloke I have avoided the use of "Feminist" ever since as a student I encountered a bloke who professed feminism as a means to attract women. The really sad thing is, it worked.

    @Sarah: I'm sure my mother would furnish beauty and hair tips were I to ask her but I'm equally sure that while they'd be welcome in a "Wow! She's talking to me as a daughter!" way I wouldn't necessarily want to take her notions on board for style reasons :)

  3. I get the feeling that you are addressing something or someone that I haven't seen, so I think I'm missing some context here. Or maybe it's just me. :)

    I gravitate toward role models just by what seems most natural to me. I don't think about it. It's really kind of a gut-level thing. I imagine it's the same for you. And if any of those role models happens to line up with a stereotype, too bad.

    I see no problem with men and/or male-bodied persons calling themselves feminists. I considered myself a feminist well before I transitioned. I wasn't the recipient of misogyny, obviously, but I wanted to make sure not to perpetrate it too, and to stop it when I could. There should not be a credibility problem.

    As for the word discrimination, it suffers from being used as shorthand. In the commonly used sense, it really means "discriminate unfairly" or "discriminate based on someone's innate characteristics." An employer wants to be discriminating when it comes to evaluating ability, but discriminating based on a person's gender or skin colour or any of several other similar characteristics is wrong.

    If I missed the point entirely, I'm sorry!

  4. My apologies to all my friends here in Blogistan, especially Veronica. You correctly point out that this post is very poorly constructed.
    I would delete it, but at this point it should probably stand as a reminder to me not to allow my reactions to unfair criticism and gross generalizations found in a few publications affect me. I wandered this morning and got lost in fringe blog world.

    Rather than taking aim at specific targets, I attempted to generalize an idea... what a mess I made of it.

    Thank you all for trying to make some sense of this. Normal service should resume soon.


  5. Halle, no apology needed; you say more in even your weaker posts than most bloggers ever manage.
    As you say, learning invloves risk, but it also involves discerning value. If a criticism has merit, accept it, but if it is valueless or unfounded, then ignore it, no matter how loudly (or cleverly) stated.
    (I wish I could follow my own advice!)

  6. Claire, you are too kind. (I cannot resist paraphrasing from 'Victor, Victoria', by saying we are all 'Two Kind' ;P)

    As usual, I was trying to 'buck myself up' in this post. It is important, as Veronica has suggested, that we overestimate out own strength sometimes. In my case, I am working myself up to take a leap of faith in my own womanhood and as you say, I hope I can follow this advice.